In Tanzania and at our office in Boston, we work hard to minimize our carbon footprint, and we encourage you to do the same! You may be surprised to learn that there are ways to live more sustainably that don’t require major lifestyle changes – unless you want them to. Here are some big and small ways you can minimize your carbon footprint.
The big way: Drive an electric car.
The small way: Avoid traffic.
If you’re in the market for a new car, you may want to look into a hybrid or electric version, which produce lower levels of harmful emissions and use less gas (or none at all). Otherwise, there are plenty of other ways to make your commute more eco-friendly. You can minimize your carbon footprint by simply avoiding traffic, which is as much a benefit for the individual as it is for the environment. When you sit in traffic, you waste gas and create unnecessary CO2. Wait until it passes to leave your home for the day.
The big way: Install a water-efficient dishwasher.
The small way: Don’t leave the faucet running while washing dishes.
Ideally, everyone would wash their dishes with an energy efficient dishwasher, which uses about 6 gallons of water or less per wash cycle, as reported in the U.S. Geological Survey. However, older homes may not come equipped with a dishwasher, meaning all of the washing is done by hand – and that can use anywhere from 8-27 gallons, depending on how efficiently you clean. Rather than leave the water running while you individually soap and rinse each plate, place dirty dishes in a warm, soapy basin. Then, you’ll only need to run the water when it’s time to rinse!
The big way: Invest in and manage a compost bin.
The small way: Use less plastic.
Compost is organic material that can be added to the soil to make it more fertile. Items like food scraps and coffee grounds – items you’d normally throw away – can be composted and planted outside. However, not everyone has a backyard or a proper place to safely stow their food waste. In that case, another eco-friendly option for waste management is to use less plastic. According to the Green Education Foundation, in the U.S. alone, only 7 percent of the 30 million tons of plastic waste was recycled in in 2009. Choose cardboard food containers, ceramic or paper plates, and reusable water bottles to help you minimize your carbon footprint.
The big way: Switch to a solar panel system to power your home.
The small way: Swap out your light bulbs with LED lights.
The Thomson Safaris office in Boston is equipped with 110 solar panels, which provides one third of our power. Depending on where you live, you may be able to earn money from installing solar panels on the roof of your home. If that’s not an option, you can always reduce your carbon footprint in a smaller way and simply swap out your incandescent lightbulbs with LED lights, which only use a fraction of the energy. As an added bonus, they last longer – so it’s a logical choice for both your wallet and the environment!
Read more about how Thomson Safaris stays green.
Author: Thomson Safaris
Thomson Safaris has been providing photographic Tanzania safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro treks for over 35 years.